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Hot Stove Daily: New York Yankees

Jeff Passan
Yahoo Sports

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Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason plans of every MLB team before the Dec. 3-6 winter meetings. Our series continues with the New York Yankees.

2007 record: 94-68

Finish: Second place, American League East, lost in first round of playoffs to Cleveland.

2007 Opening-day payroll: $190 million

Free agents: Roger Clemens, SP; Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B; Jose Molina, C; Andy Pettitte, SP; Ron Villone, RP; Luis Vizcaino, RP

WISH LIST

Hmmm. Jorge Posada? Check. Mariano Rivera? Check. Alex Rodriguez? Dot his I, cross his X and it's a check.

Johan Santana? Now that's more like it.

As Y! colleague Tim Brown so astutely pointed out, the Yankees have spent nearly $400 million this offseason to keep together the team that got their four-time World Series-winning manager fired. So it's obvious, then, that New York needs to make another move, particularly if Pettitte decides to retire.

Santana is the prize in what could be the biggest baseball blockbuster since Ken Griffey Jr. went to Cincinnati. He has won two Cy Young awards, should have won a third and is only 28. And with general manager Brian Cashman's retooling of the Yankees' farm system, they actually have the caliber players to make the trade. Whether Cashman relents on his won't-trade-Joba Chamberlain-Phil Hughes-and-Ian Kennedy stance will determine the Yankees' role in this.

Because while Minnesota doesn't need pitching prospects, the Yankees could target a frontline position player with one of those three, package him with Melky Cabrera, Double-A starter Alan Horne and a low-level, high-ceiling talent such as Jose Tabata. That's enough for Santana, no question, and though it would thin out New York's farm system, it wouldn't deplete it.

Or Cashman can just sign Luis Vizcaino, return the '07 Yankees in full and be done with his offseason.

REALITY CHECK

Jones

Steinbrenner

For someone who wanted nothing to do with the family baseball business, Hank Steinbrenner has acted an awful lot like his father during George's most ornery days. From stonewalling Scott Boras to calling out Alex Rodriguez to essentially canning Joe Torre, Steinbrenner has added a new commandment to the Yankees' many:

Thou shalt not trifle with Hank.

By now, Cashman should well have learned this. Though he has rescued the Yankees' farm system from its Sahara period, he has struggled to find the right formula for winning on the major league level. Maybe it is an infusion of youth, or maybe it's Joe Girardi's stern attitude as manager.

The biggest maybe right now is Cashman himself, and he must prove to Steinbrenner that he is a worthy choice for Yankees GM. That means winning and winning big – bigger than the Red Sox.

Which might be difficult. Compared to the Red Sox, the Yankees are an inferior team. Chien-Ming Wang is an excellent starter. He's not someone you want in Game 1 of a playoff series. Mariano Rivera is an excellent closer. Behind him, who else is there? The Yankees' lineup is indisputable, but it couldn't hit them out of the first round the last two seasons.

For a transition year, the Yankees look awfully similar. And with a new Steinbrenner in charge – a bigger, badder Boss than we've seen in years – that isn't necessarily a good thing.

NEXT: Oakland Athletics